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Gaza truce extended for 24 hours

Aug. 18, 2014 11:14 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 20, 2014 12:54 P.M.)
CAIRO (AFP) -- Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed on Monday to extend a temporary ceasefire in Gaza by 24 hours to conduct more talks on a long-term truce, a senior Palestinian official said.

The current five-day ceasefire was set to expire at midnight local time.

"Both sides have agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire," the official with the Palestinian delegation in Cairo said.

Palestinian sources in Cairo told Ma'an earlier Monday that a ceasefire agreement was being finalized after 15 days of Egypt-sponsored negotiations.

The Israeli delegation left Cairo to inform cabinet officials.

The sources said Egyptian legal consultants were preparing the documents.

A six-hour negotiations session was held on Monday following a nine-hour session on Sunday night, sources close to the ceasefire talks told Ma'an.

There were no major disagreements among the Palestinian factions, the sources said.

The aim is to broker a long-term arrangement to halt over a month of bloody fighting which erupted on July 8 although both sides have largely lowered their guns since Aug. 4 thanks to a series of temporary truce arrangements.

Ahead of the deadline, President Mahmoud Abbas was travelling to Doha Monday for talks with exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Qatar is a key backer of Hamas, the de facto rulers of Gaza.

As diplomatic efforts intensified, Gaza's health ministry said the death toll from the fighting rose above 2,000 as more people succumbed to injuries. The figures showed 2,016 people had been killed and another 10,196 wounded.

Among the dead were 541 children, 250 women and 95 elderly men.

Separately, the Israeli army confirmed that five of 64 soldiers killed in combat had died as a result of "friendly fire."

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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